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Τό, τε γάρ μιμείσθαι, σύμφυτον τοις ανθρώποις εκ παίδων εστί και τούτω διαφέρουσι των άλλων ζώων, ότι μιμητικώτατόν έστι, και τας μαθήσεις ποιείται διά μιμήσεως τάς πρώτας και το χαίρειν τοις μιμήμασι πάντας.-Aristotle, De Poetica, $ 6.
A WELL-NIGH universal wish has long been evinced for an “ Introduction to the Latin Tongue” more simple in its arrangement, and less cumbersome in its rules than what has hitherto been commonly employed; at the same time avoiding with equal care the obscurity of being too brief, together with the perplexedness of unnecessary innovation. The first of these wants evidently shows itself in the number of new Grammars which have appeared within the last few years; while the prevailing desire on the latter point is sufficiently demonstrated by the backwardness displayed in general to take advantage of those publications.
The age has passed when, “ as for the Diversity of Grammars it is well and profitabyly taken away by the King's Majesty's Wisdom ;” and I have very little doubt of there being but few in the scholastic profession unable to bear witness that at all events the
has not yet arrived in which the “ changing of schoolmasters” is wholly unknown. I cannot therefore help persuading myself that no less happy a method can possibly be devised “ for avoiding the Hurt” in such changes than the use of introductory systems of grammar altogether differing, and often quite unnecessarily-not to say wantonly, in principle, as well as detail, from that adopted in almost ninety-nine out of every hundred of English schools.
On the removal of a little boy from one school to another nothing can be more cruelly perplexing to his ideas than to find an entirely strange grammar set before him. Between the indistinct impressions of a former method, gradually receding into obscurity, and the imperfectly acquired notions of a new method, scarcely as yet emerging into light, his thoughts are perfectly bewildered ; and the difficulty of learning what his master desires him to remember is considerably enhanced by the awkwardness of unlearning that which the same allthority is anxious he should forget. But, if the young scholar be somewhat more advanced, and discover upon his admission into a public school, either that he is shut out of an upper form, or continually losing places in it, from an unexpected infelicity in parsing occasioned by nothing more or less than a thorough revolution in Syntax, Conjugation, Declension and Parts of Speech, he is meeting with discouragement which cannot but be pitied, and experiencing a check which will not fail of being injurious.
I have, notwithstanding, for some time entertained the opinion that Latin grammar might be put forth in a more desirable shape than as it appears in the Etor. Introduction; and this opinion is confirmed not only by the observations made, but also by the plan invariably, and not unsuccessfully, pursued during several years of employment in tuition : otherwise I need not have obtruded this SIMPLIFIED LATIN GRAMMAR upon the attention of the public. Nevertheless I am very far from wishing to echo one half the vituperation which, for some time back, it has been so fashionable to utter against the Eton Grammar; inasmuch as therein, or rather in that upon which it is founded—the delightful“ BREVISSIMA
Institutio” of William Lily, there certainly is con. tained much valuable matter; although that value appears to me to consist chiefly in its being a not very bulky compendium of useful reference for the more advanced school-boy or young collegian.
The object, therefore, which I have endeavoured to keep steadily in view, while preparing the following pages, has been to render as simple as possible the acquisition of the rudiments of Latin, and not to introduce any needless peculiarity. In this Grammar scarcely any thing will appear strange to a boy who has previously learned the Eton; and I am much deceived if that Grammar will not be found considerably easier, and more intelligible, to those who may have been made acquainted with this, than it has often proved to be in the case of others.
Neither has it been judged advisable here to make any attempt at what is commonly called a " Philosophical Grammar :" for, in the words of the great Bacon, “ Grammaticam etiam bipartitam ponemus, ut alia sit literaria, alia philosophica: altera adhibetur simpliciter ad linguas, nempe ut eas quis aut celerius perdiscat, aut emendatius et purius loquatur; altera vero aliquatenus philosophiæ ministrat*. -The duty of it is of two natures; the one popular, which is for the speedy and perfect attaining languages, as well for intercourse of speech, as for understanding of authors; the other philosophical, examining the power and nature of words as they are the footsteps and prints of reasont :"-or, having re
* Lord Bacon, De Augmentis Scientiarum, lib. vi. cap. 1. +
Advancement of Learning, book ii.
course to the more perspicuous language of an eminent scholar now living, “the former treating of the analogy of words to one another; the latter of the analogy between words and things. Now,” according to the same high authority, “ if we set out in our researches, by laying down a certain number of general principles, drawn from a consideration of philosophical grammar alone, and then proceed to explain any individual language by them, we soon find, that we must either desert our guide, or have recourse to very unnatural expedients, to make the literaria agree with the philosophica*. ' In addition to which I am inclined to believe that such speculations and inquiries, (although highly necessary, and exceedingly delightful, to more matured minds,) are but ill adapted to the capacity of boys : and, while from the very nature, as well as size, of an elementary work like this, it would be impossible to do justice to
Philosophical” grammar, I am unwilling that the youthful scholar should run any risk of finding himself completely mystified in his more humble pursuit of the “ Popular.”
We are indebted to no discovery of the nineteenth century for the information that " a child is a most imitative little animal ;” as is shown by the quotation from the Greek philosopher. Old, however, as this saying is, our being reminded of it occasionally may be of considerable advantage : for mankind have, of late, been so eager in the discovery of new truths, as sometimes to forget old ones; and ancient wisdom disguised in modern phraseology may, therefore, like an
* Editor's Preface to Matthia's Greek Grammar, by the present Bishop of London. 8vo. Cambridge, 1820. pp. ix. X.